Last updated: 2 July 2020




What’s the deal with those white oval-shaped bumper stickers? Good question!




The usage of these white oval decals originated in Europe in the early 20th century. European countries are relatively small and drivers have always frequently crossed from country to country. Moreover, in those days European licence plates all looked confusingly similar, so Europe needed to find an easy way to identify each vehicle’s country of registration. They came up with the idea of making it mandatory to put a white oval-shaped sticker with black country initials on the back of all vehicles.

This European custom became an international requirement in many countries after the U.N.’s Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949) and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968). It was agreed upon that a distinguishing sign of the country of registration had to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. It also stipulated that the sign could either be placed separately from the registration plate or could be incorporated into the vehicle’s number plate and if the international registration letter was incorporated into the licence plate, it also had to appear on the front number plate.

These days, oval stickers with an international circulation mark are not as common anymore in Europe, since standard E.U. number plates have integrated the country code into a blue strip on the left side of the plate. This blue section is actually the flag of Europe (a circle of 12 yellow stars on a blue background), with the country code of the member state underneath it.

Since only two countries border the United States and the vast majority of Americans, Canadians and Mexicans hire a car instead of bringing their own when they go abroad, there was no need for car ovals at all. This explains why these oval-shaped country stickers have never been subject to any kind of regulation by the American Government. At some point in the early 80s, however, it became trendy for Americans to look European: with the yuppie bimmer craze, it was not uncommon to see BMWs with the German “D” oval sticker (Deutschland) driving on American highways (see picture on the left).

Soon, some Americans started putting all kinds of other stickers on their cars in order to boast about what amazing (European) destinations they had been to. White oval bumper stickers gradually became a fad status symbol, so people started making Euro-looking stickers with abbreviations for places in the States. Common stickers are for instance things like “MV” for Martha’s Vineyard, “CA” for California, “ACK” for Nantucket (which is the airport code) and “OBX” for the Outer Banks of North Carolina.



Country-by-country list of international car codes

Below is an extensive listing of all independent countries of the world and their international car codes.

CountryInternational vehicle registration code
AfghanistanAFG
AlbaniaAL
AlderneyGBA (stands for Great Britain Alderney)
AlgeriaDZ (stands for الجزائر‎ or, in the Latin alphabet, al-Jazā’ir, pronounced as Al Dzayer)
AndorraAND
AngolaANG (unofficial licence plate country code)
AnguillaAXA (unofficial licence plate country code)
AntarcticaARK (unofficial licence plate country code)
Antigua and BarbudaAG (unofficial licence plate country code)
ArgentinaRA (stands for República Argentina)
ArmeniaAM
ArubaAUA (unofficial licence plate country code) / ARU (unofficial licence plate country code)
AustraliaAUS
AustriaA
AzerbaijanAZ
BahamasBS
BahrainBRN
BangladeshBD
BarbadosBDS
BelarusBY (stands for Byelorussia)
BelgiumB
BelizeBH (stands for British Honduras, the former name of Belize) / BZ (unofficial licence plate country code)
BeninDY (stands for Dahomey, the former name of Benin)
BhutanBHT (unofficial licence plate country code)
BoliviaBOL
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBIH (stands for Bosna i Hercegovina)
BotswanaRB (stands for Republic of Botswana) / BW (unofficial licence plate country code)
BrazilBR
British Virgin IslandsBVI
BruneiBRU
BulgariaBG
Burkina FasoBF
Burma (officially Myanmar)BUR (stands for Burma, the former name of Myanmar)
BurundiRU (stands for Ruanda-Urundi, the former name of Burundi)
CambodiaK (stands for Kampuchea, the former name of Cambodia)
CameroonCAM
CanadaCDN (stands for Canadian Dominion)
Cape Verde (in Portuguese: Cabo Verde)CV (unofficial licence plate country code)
CataloniaCAT (unofficial licence plate country code, E is the official code)
Central African RepublicRCA (stands for République Centrafricaine)
ChadTCH (stands for Tchad) / TD (stands for Tchad, unofficial licence plate country code)
ChileRCH (stands for República de Chile)
ColombiaCO
ComorosCOM (unofficial licence plate country code)
Corps Diplomatique (Diplomatic Corps)CD (not a country code, but used alongside a country code sticker by (foreign) diplomats)
Costa RicaCR
Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)CI
CroatiaHR (stands for Hrvatska)
CubaC
CyprusCY
Czechia (Czech Republic)CZ
Democratic People’s Republic of KoreaKP (unofficial licence plate country code)
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)ZRE (stands for Zaïre, the former name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
DenmarkDK
DjiboutiDJI (unofficial licence plate country code)
DominicaWD (stands for Windward Islands Dominica)
Dominican RepublicDOM
East Timor (Timor-Leste)TL (stands for Timor-Leste, unofficial licence plate country code)
EcuadorEC
EgyptET
El SalvadorES
EnglandENG (unofficial licence plate country code, GB is the official code)
Equatorial GuineaGQ (unofficial licence plate country code)
EritreaER
EstoniaEST
EthiopiaETH
Faeroe IslandsFO / FØ (stands for Føroyar, unofficial licence plate country code)
FijiFJI
FinlandFIN
FlandersVL (stands for Vlaanderen, unofficial licence plate country code, B is the official code)
FranceF
GabonG
GambiaWAG (stands for West Africa Gambia)
GeorgiaGE
GermanyD (stands for Deutschland)
GhanaGH
GibraltarGBZ (stands for Great Britain Gibraltar, Z was assigned because G was already used for Guernsey)
GreeceGR
GreenlandKN (stands for Kalaallit Nunaat, unofficial licence plate country code)
GrenadaWG (stands for Windward Islands Grenada)
GuatemalaGCA (stands for Guatemala, Central America)
GuernseyGBG (stands for Great Britain Guernsey)
GuineaRG (stands for République de Guinée)
Guinea-BissauRGB (stands for República da Guiné-Bissau, unofficial licence plate country code) / GW (unofficial licence plate country code)
GuyanaGUY
HaitiRH (stands for République d’Haïti)
HondurasHN (unofficial licence plate country code)
Hong KongHK (unofficial licence plate country code)
HungaryH
IcelandIS (stands for Ísland)
IndiaIND
IndonesiaRI (stands for Republik Indonesia)
IranIR
IraqIRQ
IrelandIRL
Isle of ManGBM (stands for Great Britain Isle of Man)
IsraelIL
ItalyI
Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire)CI (stands for Côte d’Ivoire)
JamaicaJA
JapanJ
JerseyGBJ (stands for Great Britain Jersey)
JordanHKJ (stands for Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan)
KazakhstanKZ
KenyaEAK (stands for East Africa Kenya)
KiribatiKIR (unofficial licence plate country code)
KosovoRKS (stands for Republika e Kosovës, unofficial licence plate country code)
KuwaitKWT
KyrgyzstanKS
LaosLAO
LatviaLV
LebanonRL (stands for République Libanaise)
LesothoLS
LiberiaLB
LibyaLAR (stands for Libyan Arab Republic)
LiechtensteinFL (stands for Fürstentum Liechtenstein)
LithuaniaLT
LuxembourgL
MacauMO (unofficial licence plate country code)
Macedonia, NorthMK (stands for Македонија or, in the Latin alphabet, Makedonija)
MadagascarRM (stands for République de Madagascar)
MalawiMW
MalaysiaMAL
MaldivesMV (unofficial licence plate country code)
MaliRMM (stands for République du Mali)
MaltaM
Marshall IslandsMH (unofficial licence plate country code)
MauritaniaRIM (stands for République islamique de Mauritanie)
MauritiusMS
MexicoMEX
Micronesia (officially: Federated States of Micronesia)FSM (unofficial licence plate country code)
MoldovaMD
MonacoMC
MongoliaMGL
MontenegroMNE
MoroccoMA (stands for Maroc)
MozambiqueMOC (stands for Moçambique)
Myanmar (formerly Burma)BUR (stands for Burma, the former name of Myanmar)
NamibiaNAM
NauruNAU
NepalNEP
NetherlandsNL
Netherlands AntillesNA
New CaledoniaNC (unofficial licence plate country code)
New ZealandNZ
NicaraguaNIC
NigerRN (stands for République du Niger)
NigeriaWAN (stands for West Africa Nigeria)
Northern Ireland (unofficial licence plate country code, GB is the official code)NI
North MacedoniaMK (stands for Македонија or, in the Latin alphabet, Makedonija)
NorwayN
OmanOM (unofficial licence plate country code)
PakistanPK
PalauPAL (unofficial licence plate country code)
PalestinePS (unofficial licence plate country code)
PanamaPA
Papua New GuineaPNG
ParaguayPY
People’s Republic of ChinaCN (unofficial licence plate country code)
PeruPE
PhilippinesRP (stands for Republic of the Philippines)
PolandPL
PortugalP
Puerto RicoPR (unofficial licence plate country code)
QatarQ
Republic of KoreaROK
Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)RCB (stands for République du Congo-Brazzaville)
RomaniaRO
RussiaRUS
RwandaRWA
Saint Kitts and NevisKAN (unofficial licence plate country code)
Saint LuciaWL (stands for Windward Islands Saint Lucia)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWV (stands for Windward Islands Saint Vincent)
SamoaWS (stands for Western Samoa, the former name of Samoa)
San MarinoRSM (stands for Repubblica di San Marino)
Saudi ArabiaKSA (stands for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
ScotlandSCO (unofficial licence plate country code, GB is the official code)
SenegalSN
SerbiaSRB
SeychellesSY
Sierra LeoneWAL (stands for West Africa Sierra Leone) / SLE (unofficial licence plate country code)
SingaporeSGP
SlovakiaSK
SloveniaSLO
Solomon IslandsSOL (unofficial licence plate country code)
SomaliaSO
South AfricaZA (stands for Zuid-Afrika)
SpainE (stands for España)
Sri LankaCL (stands for Ceylon, the former name of Sri Lanka)
SudanSUD
SurinameSME
SwazilandSD
SwedenS
SwitzerlandCH (stands for Confœderatio Helvetica)
SyriaSYR
São Tomé and PríncipeSTP (unofficial licence plate country code)
TaiwanRC (stands for Republic of China)
TajikistanTJ
TanzaniaEAT (stands for East Africa Tanzania)
ThailandT
Timor-Leste (East Timor)TL (unofficial licence plate country code)
TogoTG
TongaTO (unofficial licence plate country code)
TransnistriaPMR (stands for Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, unofficial licence plate country code, MD is the official code)
Trinidad and TobagoTT
TunisiaTN
TurkeyTR
TurkmenistanTM
TuvaluTUV (unofficial licence plate country code)
UgandaEAU (stands for East Africa Uganda)
UkraineUA
United Arab Emirates (UAE)UAE
United Kingdom (UK)GB (stands for United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
United States (USA)USA
UruguayUY
UzbekistanUZ
VanuatuVU (unofficial licence plate country code)
Vatican CityV
VenezuelaYV
VietnamVN
WalesCYM (stands for Cymru, unofficial licence plate country code, GB is the official code)
Western SaharaWSA (unofficial licence plate country code)
YemenYAR (stands for Yemen Arab Republic)
ZambiaZ
ZanzibarEAZ (stands for East Africa Zanzibar)
ZimbabweZW